Wardian’s Third Time Is A Charm at JFK 50 Mile - Second Fastest Time
Lundblad Captures Back-to-Back Wins
By George Banker
“I can not imagine running 50 miles. I’ll tell you this – you guys are Crazy!!! And in the running world, crazy means two things – tough and respected”. These are the words of Jaron Hawkins of the Cumberland Valley Athletic Club (CVAC). He was the third place finisher in the 32nd Marine Corps Marathon in a time of 2:25:34.
Hawkins was making a comment about the participants of the 45th JFK 50 Miler which was held on Saturday, November 17, 2007. The JFK 50 Miler has reached a level of national attention by being the largest 50-mile ultra marathon rich in history (1,079 finishers).
In 1963 President John F. Kennedy revived the fitness theme for Americans. U.S. News & World Report (February 25, 1963) reported that Attorney General Bobby Kennedy did a “non-stop” 50 miles in 17 hours. Also, Marine, Brig. General R. McC. Tompkins did 50 miles in 15 hours 32 minutes.
The first JFK 50 Mile Challenge was held in the spring of 1963. The first finishers were Steve Cosition, James Ebberts, Rick Miller, and Buzz Sawyer in a time of 13:10. After the assassination of President in November 1963 the race name was changed to the JFK 50 Mile Memorial in 1964.
The start of the race is in
The first 2.5 miles in along a paved road that climbs to 500
feet to meet the
At 14.5 miles the course goes down a series of steep
“switchbacks” which is a narrow path wide enough for one person. The pace
through this segment slows. A transition was made to the
The finish is located at
The profile of the runners for the JFK is those who seek a unique experience, have a love for the sport, look for the ultimate challenge, and accept the risk of failure and or injury. There is a time limit for each check point and you can be pulled off the course for not maintaining pace. The speed is important but finishing is the ultimate prize.
The 2007 race was an honor to the memory of long time
volunteer Hubert Elwood “Buck” Huntzberry, Sr., (1924-2007). He was a long-time
volunteer as a member of the Antietman Radio Association. He served in World War II as a member of the
U.S. Army participating in five major campaigns including
The third time was a charm for Michael Wardian of Team
Pacers/Brooks. Wardian completed 13 marathons this year which included the
Olympic Marathon Trials. It took Wardian 24 miles to take the lead from Pete
Breckinridge was attempting to join the club of consecutive year winners, Max White (73-5:50:30, 74- 6:09:19), Mike Spinnler (82-5:53:05, 83-6:12:12), Chris Gibson (88-6:31:06, 6:16:29, 92-6:25:39, 93-6:35:51), and Eric Clifton (94-5:46:22, 95-6:15:36).
Zachariah Miller of
Michael Wardian, a 1996 graduate of
The JFK can hold surprises for the first timer and words from Wardian, “For a first time runner I would know what your goal is going into the race because when things get “tough” it will help to have that goal in your mind and then you can rally around it”.
The competition is always a variable in any event especially the JFK, “I was concerned about everyone in the race. I always am. I knew that I was ready to run but everyone has a chance to win and run well and that is one of the things I like about racing”, stated Wardian.
In the JFK there is a choice of running for time or place for Wardian, “I don’t think either was more important, I was running based on hitting under a certain time and figured that the place would work out”.
It is easy to look at the JFK after it’s over to see what could have been done differently and for Wardian, “If I had to run the event over, I would push harder over the last eight miles, I think I could have done better looking back but I was pretty tired so I did what I thought I could”.
Each event is a learning experience and Wardian runs away with, “I learned a lot about myself and I am happy that it was mostly positive. I was pleased that I kept pushing till the end and finishing strongly that was important and so was running a good time at that distance. I am looking forward to running more races in the future and I am always looking to see what other things I can learn from the experience”.
Anne Lundbald of
Annette Bednosky of
One of the new inductees to the 500 Mile Club is Joe Lugiano
Mike Malinin, the drummer of the band Goo Goo Dolls was coming off an injury finished the race in 11:50:59.
There are two prestigious clubs (Legends) of the JFK 50 Mile, the “500 Mile”, those who have completed 10 runnings and to date there are 243 with the newest inductees from 2006 Michael Campbell, Jim Fitch, Louis Jones, Leo Lightner, Danny Losekamp, Paul Mingo, Keith Moore, Phil O’Connor, Dom Quattrochi, Ojars Stikis, and Ronald Temechko. This group sports a sweatshirt with “500 Mile Club”.
The other is the “1,000 Mile”, with 30 runners who have completed 20 running’s with the newest 2006 inductees: Dave Downin, David Janosko, and Dale Rhoderick. This group sports a white polo shirt with “1000 Mile Club”.
“After winning my second consecutive JFK 50 Mile in 1983 (6:12:12) I announced my retirement to the press at the finish line of the event. I would later reconsider, and raced the JFK 500 Mile in ’84, ’85, ’87, ’88 and ’90 before ultimately retiring. At the finish line in 1983 I told Buzz Sawyer that when he needed to give the race up, that I’d be interested in taking over as race director. A few years went by and when he had a scare with prostrate problem in 1987 we decided that I would take over after he directed the 30th Annual JFK 50 Mile in 1992. I worked under Buzz during the 1991 and 1992 JFK 50 Mile events”, stated Mike Spinnler.
“I envision the JFK 50 Mile transcending many generations
and a 100th Annual JFK 50 Mile being held in November 2062. I
probably won’t be around but I hope my sons are there enjoying that event with
great pride. A
Spinnler shares his thoughts, “When people walk away from the finish line of the JFK 50 Mile I want them to feel like –with hard work and persistence – anything is possible. By and large the people who finish the JFK 50 Mile are the same type of individuals achieving excellence in every other avenue of their lives”.
“The Cumberland Valley Athletic Club measures our success in managing the event by the growing number of people who desire to be part of this great American sporting tradition. Also, that after they come and participate, they then go and spread a positive word about the event”, added Spinnler.
The 46th JFK 50 Mile is scheduled for November 22, 2008.